Decent work and economic growth

SDG 8 - Economic Growth

SDG8 aims to promote a sustainable economic growth and decent work and working conditions for everyone.

Several aspects of employment share a deep bond with public health. First, unemployment has a strong impact on physical and mental health. Unemployed people are more likely to have risky behaviours, such as drug or alcohol consumption. These habits deteriorate their health and decrease their chance to find a job. Furthermore, people with chronic illnesses are more likely to be unemployed, which lowers their health conditions even more. Working conditions are of utmost important too. Poor working conditions, which follow a social gradient, increase the risk of unhealthy exposures, such as dust, chemicals or high physical loads. The type of work, namely people being forced to take part-time works or shift works, leads to a decrease in health. Finally, regular overtime leads to a decrease in health and well-being that are passed on to the family.

Then, on the other hand, a health system that promotes health empowers economic growth by providing works and innovation opportunities and by providing healthy people to the economy. Finally, investments in a green and circular economy reduce unhealthy exposures by lowering the environmental pollution and promote a sustainable economic growth.

In order to tackle the health outcomes associated with work and/or economy, the first step is to ensure the full commitment of governments into developing a healthy and sustainable economic environment for everyone. With this view in mind, it is crucial to ensure minimal wages, a safe work environment and social and economic assistances, such as child allowance. Furthermore, promoting working conditions, notably in term of stress and overloaded charges of work, is also another crucial step. Finally, making sure that poor or chronically ill people can easily access to decent work is of the utmost important.


Vincent Gaspoz
PhD student
University of Basel